Ryan Whittaker was talking to Stephen Jones

Duty manager: Ryan Whittaker
Store: Waitrose Saltash
Opened: 2000
Size: 16,998 sq ft
Market share: 16.7%
Population: 159,415
Grocery spend: £4,213,315.07
Spend by household: £61.27
Competitors: 30
Nearest rivals: Aldi 4.8 miles, Asda 5.6 miles, Co-op 1.3 miles, Iceland 0.2 miles, Lidl 0.3 miles, M&S 4.8 miles, Morrisons 4.5 miles, Sainsbury’s 3.5 miles, Tesco 3.8 miles, Waitrose 24.2 miles

Source: CACI. For more info visit www.caci.co.uk/contact. Notes: Shopper profiling is measured using Grocery Acorn shopper segmentation. Store catchment data (market share, population, expenditure, spend by household, competition) is within a five-mile radius. For CACI’s shopper segmentation of the other stores we visited this week see the online report at www.thegrocer.co.uk/stores/the-grocer-33

This is the store’s third win in four years. What drives those standards? Because of the seasonality of the store, you need a certain attitude, focus and resilience to keep delivering. First and foremost, it’s the longevity of service of the store team and the management team that hold the store together. We’ve got around 200 partners.

How does location on the border between Devon and Cornwall affect who’s coming in? We’ve not got as many Waitrose stores in the region as in other parts of the country, so we cover deliveries for a large part of south Devon and Cornwall. We’ve got a big team of 60 drivers. Particularly going into the summer period, we do lots of deliveries to the south coast, and a lot of holiday destinations. In July and August we have a solid eight to nine weeks of good trade as holidaymakers come to the south west. We’ll probably see between a 10%-20% uplift in store, as well as online during that period.

How are the preparations for the summer peak going? We’re well set, we know what to expect and we’re looking forward to it. Normally the bank holiday is the kick-start of the holidaymakers, but it really ramps up in July. Unlike Christmas, it’s quite a sustained peak, so it’s about making sure we are being consistent about processes. We need to have the right number of partners and have the right products in, so that our regular shoppers don’t notice a difference.

What are shoppers stocking up on for their holidays? People generally want to buy local products, whether it’s Langage clotted cream or local beers and ales. Our soft fruit sales are really strong at the moment, thanks to the recent good spells of weather. Our BBQ range has also been popular, particularly the bone marrow fat beefburgers and honey-glazed pork belly slice. For picnics, we’ve got a new creamy pecorino dip, which has sold well.

Our mystery shopper was impressed by your displays. What are you showing off? We’ve got a really strong front-of-store display of various whiskeys and other things dads might like ahead of Father’s Day. But generally, we’ve got some good meal deal offers, and a pizza meal deal. We’re also displaying the Ottolenghi range, which launched recently. It’s been one of our most successful ranges for a little while. Then as people are prepping up for Wimbledon and the Euros, we’ve got all the classics, so Pimm’s and some really strong beers, wines and spirits. 

When was the last major investment in the store? There was some back-of-house work done in 2021 to reconfigure our infrastructure, including refrigeration, and make us better equipped to deal with the seasonal peaks. We’ve also had some new tills and self-payment options introduced in recent months.

Waitrose seems to have turned a corner in the past year. What’s been the biggest change? We’re giving people lots of reasons to want to come and shop with us again, and we’re attracting new customers. There’s been the commitment to invest in our stores, and a real doubling down and focus on retail. I’ve noticed a real energy across the business in regard to that, and that helps me as a store manager ensure our availability is strong consistently.